The Worst Get on Top

Monarchy is an interesting possible solution to Hayek's problem of why "the worst get on top": the monarch had to make no effort to get on top except that of getting out of the birth canal. And history lends this notion some support: of course, there have been very bad monarchs, but I don't think the worst of them approach Hitler, Stalin, Mao or Pol Pot.

Sortition, of course, is another possible solution.

Just wishing that "Everyone will stay at the bottom and so no one will be on top!" on the other hand, is not much of solution.

6 comments:

  1. Did Hayek ever give any possible explanations for why the scum rises to the top? I'm personally a fan of representative democracy, constitutional republicanism, and presidentialism over monarchy, but I've got no love for populist despotism (something which has a rather bloody track record as you note).

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    1. Hayek was talking especially of regimes with full central planning, but the principle extends, I think.

      I haven't looked at that chapter in a while, but I think it's pretty basic: in a struggle to see who will wield power, the ruthless have an edge

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    2. The only nation that's a completely or almost completely centrally planned society that exists without many of the horrors committed by Hitler/Mao/Stalin-types is Cuba. Granted, they engage in censorship, fake trials, and a host of other abuses, but it's nothing that comes anywhere close to North Korea, the only country that is more planned than them. Cuba is authoritarian rather than totalitarian.

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  2. One of the problems with monarchy is that it is not always absolutely clear who has a better claim to the throne. In the past there have been very long and protracted conflicts between several people with plausible claims to the same throne.

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    1. Yes that is a problem. Nothing in this fallen world is perfect. But democracies also have elections in which the results are questioned: see US, 2000, Crimea, 2014, etc.

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  3. Perhaps it's that for the future despot to have the drive to rise to the top requires a grand vision, something which would no doubt turn into a centrally planned society.

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